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| |-+  December 2005 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  December 18, 2005, Snoqualmie Area Decisions
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Author Topic: December 18, 2005, Snoqualmie Area Decisions  (Read 2287 times)
Jim Oker
TAY Moderator

Posts: 1591

December 18, 2005, Snoqualmie Area Decisions
« on: 12/19/05, 03:29 AM »

So one possible partner decided to go ride the lifts, which sounded windy to me. Another left me a message Saturday night, but I got home late and wasn't sure how late I could call his house. Yanna and I remembered we had a Sunday evening birthday party to attend, so we decided to forgo a longer drive to better views (drive for tour wouldn't have been a bad decision for a period when everyone was reporting tough snow conditions, so why not tour for views instead of turns? but alas, the return time precluded this option). Then on Sunday morning, Yanna decided it sounded too windy and cold for her pleasure, and I headed out alone, deciding upon a familiar and wind-sheltered tour. I also decided to stuff in a down sweather since I would be alone, with no one to beg an extra layer from if hurt and immobilized (I know, best to always have such options, but I often decide to compromise a little when in a group).

The scariest part of the day was driving past North Bend where the 60MPH gusts kept slamming me sideways. I decided to slow down a little.

I found an old skin track which was covered in hoar now, with only one animal track in it (coyote? cougar? big paw, but the prints were quite close together). I could hear the wind howling during the ascent, but except for a few stretches, I was nicely sheltered, deciding to take a few breaks in little solar oven areas. At my high point, the wind was howling just feet over my head, but I was in a calm pocket of warmth. I decided one more break was in order before heading down.

Having gathered some data on the snow on various aspects, I concocted a rough plan. I could see that the easts winds hadn't been transporting snow at least recently, so went for a fun 30-35 degree open west slope with good tree shade on the south edge. After a short drop through cucka in the forest, I found thick surface hoar on top of recrystallized "stale powder" with two old ski tracks that you couldn't even feel due to the recrystallization. I decided this looked safe, with no new wind-transported snow (some old stuff but the recrystallization had clearly taken out any elasticity). Great turning for 600 vf! Then the evil crust re-appeared, so I decided to do a long slightly dropping traverse (across very firm and icy tree bombed and peed cucka forest snow) to another possible stash. Indeed, more of that sheltered hoar covered bouncy stuff for a few hundred feet, then another quick traverse to another several hundred vf of pretty damn nice powder skiing!! Except for a few brief unavoidable crust stretches, this was damn nice skiing (except when I decided to thread the needle between two christmas trees, where I was reminded just how hollow and well hidden the tree wells are right now). Nicer than 2 weeks ago when only the steepest skiing was any fun. Though if I'd wandered even 10 feet off my descent line in most places, it would have sucked. I managed nearly 2K of fun powder (would have had more if I'd allowed time to yo-yo of course), and 1K of quick "exit skiing."

I decided my decision to go for a familiar (and sheltered) route where I might have a prayer of sniffing the good stuff was sound. Too bad no one else decided to come share it with me.

Though I was falling asleep by the end of the party, it was fun, reminding me of how great it is to live in the Puget Sound area where we can pack both mountain and social events into the same day.

Looks like we're headed for a new sorta snowpack momentarily...
« Last Edit: 12/19/05, 06:46 AM by jim_oker » Logged
ron j
TAY Moderator

Posts: 2602

Re: December 17, 2005, Snoqualmie Area Decisions
« Reply #1 on: 12/19/05, 04:31 AM »

Nice report, Jim.
Glad there was still some goods in there for the "bloodhound" in you.
Guess we'll have a "whole new ball game" now with this week's coming weather, eh?

"When I stop having fun I'm turnin' around"
"Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future." - Niels Bohr
"If a given person makes it a priority not to die in an avalanche, he or she stands a very good chance of living a long, happy life in the mountains." - Jill Fredston
Jim Oker
TAY Moderator

Posts: 1591

Re: December 18, 2005, Snoqualmie Area Decisions
« Reply #2 on: 12/19/05, 04:50 AM »

[edited to change date to Sunday, which is when I went...]
You seem to know the virtues of having heavily explored an area to the point where you know what slopes might be good on any given day, Ron. It sure pays off on days like yesterday if you're looking for turns instead of just tours...

Yeah, let's just hope that we get some heavy orographic showers with dropping levels at the end of this next wave. Sounds like a yucky Xmas weekend...

Wednesday: Decreasing light rain or snow showers.
Wednesday night and early Thursday: Increasing moderate to heavy
rain or snow with a chance of freezing rain lower Cascade passes.
Late Thursday: Rain or snow changing to showers.
Friday: Increasing rain or snow becoming moderate to heavy,
heaviest along the volcanic peaks and south slopes Olympics.

     4-6000 ft N, 5-7000 ft S Wed, locally near the surface
Cascade passes and east slopes
     45-6500 ft N, 7-8000 ft S early Thur
     3-5000 ft N, 4-6000 ft S late Thur
     4-6000 ft N, 6-8000 ft S early Fri
     2-4000 ft N, 5-7000 ft S late Fri
« Last Edit: 12/19/05, 06:47 AM by jim_oker » Logged
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